Thomas A. Jones was a special person for the Florida track program, and at an event bearing his name, members of the Gators’ men’s team turned in special performances.
Led by Jeff Demps, Dumisani Hlaselo, Sean Obinwa and Terrell Wilks – as each turned in top-five national times in their events – the Gators won 10 total events and set all-time top-10 marks at last Saturday’s Tom Jones Memorial Classic at Florida’s James G. Pressly Stadium.
The meet honors Jones, the former longtime Florida women’s track and field coach who died of four years ago at the age of 62 from cancer. As the Gators’ head coach, he helped 71 athletes earn 245 All-America honors as his teams earned a combined 15 top-10 finishes at the NCAA Indoor and Outdoor Championships.
The team’s effort would have made Tom Jones proud.
Demps’ outstanding season continued with a win in the men’s 100-meter dash in a time of 9.96, the fastest wind-assisted 100m time in the world this season. That wind-aided time isn’t recognized as Florida’s school record, but it does match Demps’ previous wind-assisted personal-best established in 2010.
Wilks, running alongside Demps, ran his second-fastest time ever at 10.19 – good enough for fourth place overall. Wilks added a wind-legal personal-best time of 20.51 in the men’s 200-meter dash. That was the third-fastest time in the NCAA this season and moved Wilks into a tie for 10th place on Florida’s all-time 200m chart with former Gator teammate Jeremy Hall.
Hlaselo ran the fourth-fastest time in the country this season to win the men’s 1,500-meter in 3:40.66 – the second-fastest mark in school history.
Obinwa won the men’s 800-meter run with a personal-best time of 1:47.73 – which currently ranks third in the NCAA this season, and is 10th all-time in UF history.
The Gators are currently ranked No. 1 in the USTFCCCA poll. Their next competition is at the Penn Relays Carnival April 28-30.
Need to Know
• Nothing changed in the first five positions on this week’s U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (UTFCCCA) men’s track rankings. Florida, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Florida State and LSU continue to hold down the top five spots. Southern California and Mississippi State, sixth and seventh respectively, swapped positions from a week ago while Stanford remained at No. 8. Brigham Young was the biggest mover, jumping from 15th to ninth, while Nebraska remained at 10th. Dropping out of the top 10 was Texas (11th).
• Texas A&M had a pair of sibling sensations at Florida’s Tom Jones Memorial Classic when men’s and women’s javelin stars Sam and Emalie Humphreys each won titles. Sam nearly matched his school record with a winning toss of 251-8 (76.70) that bettered the field by 12 feet. Emalie had a season-best throw of 167-11 (51.18) to win by nine feet.
• Texas Tech, No. 3 in the nation, had a strong showing at the Mt. SAC Relays at Walnut, Calif. Red Raider All-American Bryce Brown ran a 49.25 to win the 400m men’s hurdle invitational elite section – a school record and the top effort in the NCAA and the U.S. this season. Teammate Gil Roberts, in his first 400m of the season, ran a 45.29 to win the men’s invitational elite section. Omo Osaghae’s wind-aided 13.27 was good enough to win the 110m men’s invitational elite section, his fourth title of the season.
• North Carolina’s Donte Nall is the Atlantic Coast Conference Men’s Outdoor Track & Field Performer of the Week. Nall, a Douglasville, Ga. native, grabbed a first-place finish in the high jump at the Kent Taylor-Joe Hilton Carolina Invitational. Nall had a personal-best of 7-3. The effort tied for seventh in the nation and second in the ACC.
• Oral Roberts’ Jack Whitt continues to have a strong season. Whitt won his third consecutive pole event in as many weeks as he took first-place at Oklahoma last weekend with a height of 17-2 3/4 (5.25m). He had a nation’s-best vault for consecutive weeks with a 18-4 1/2 (5.60m) until it was recently eclipsed. Also on successive weeks, Whitt set back-to-back personal bests and school records with a height of 18-3 3/4 (5.58m) at the Texas Tech Invitational, before surpassing that with an 18-4 1/2 (5.60m) leap at the Texas Relays, which currently marks the second-best height in the nation.
• The appropriately named Miles Batty shattered two records last weekend at the 53rd Annual Mt. SAC Relays. Batty, NCAA indoor mile national champion, ran a 3:36.25, which broke the BYU (3:38.31) and meet record (3:37.99) in the 1,500-meter race.
• The 2011 ACC Men’s and Women’s Outdoor Track & Field Championships are underway through Saturday at Duke’s Wallace Wade Stadium in Durham, N.C. It is the Blue Devils’ ninth time hosting the championship and first since 2000. The Florida State men and Clemson women are the defending conference champions. A Seminoles repeat would give it its sixth consecutive title and eighth overall. The Tigers are seeking their fourth overall crown.